ONEONTA – The State of New York should provide “immediate financial relief” to Oneonta and surrounding communities for the damage caused by the mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak at SUNY Oneonta, Republican state Senate candidate Peter Oberacker said today.
Oberacker, who is running to succeed Jim Seward, R-Milford, in the 51st District, suggested the state should react “much like you would see in response to a natural disaster.”
County Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is also running for state Senate, suggested yesterday that, instead of waiting for Governor Cuomo to tell us when and how to reopen, we in Otsego County should put together our own un-PAUSE plan, present it to the governor, and act on it.
Hmm. That would follow the model the Cuomo Administration is applying to factories and construction sites due to open May 15: The companies are developing plans to submit to the state, not vice versa.
“Why can’t we go to our governor and tell him: We understand it. We need to open. Here’s our plan to move forward,” said Oberacker in an interview with www.AllOTSEGO.com. “Let’s put together a structured plan to reopen Otsego County.”
Why not indeed?
He was criticized last evening by his Democratic opponent, Jim Barber of Schoharie, for flouting “medical experts and science-based criteria.” But what the experts are recommending can be known and applied, without waiting for Albany to do it for us.
COOPERSTOWN – Otsego County shouldn’t be waiting for Governor Cuomo’s permission to reopen as the coronavirus threat wanes, says county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus.
Oberacker, who is also running for state Senate, was the sole “nay” vote as a resolution asking the governor to reopen the county “safely and as soon as possible” passed the Board of Representatives today by a 13-1 vote.
“Why can’t we go to our governor and tell him: We understand it. We need to open. Here’s our plan to move forward,” said Oberacker in an interview after the meeting. “Let’s put together a structured plan to reopen Otsego County.”
The resolution the county representatives passed was less specific.
SCHENEVUS – Peter Oberacker’s Form Tech Solutions lab has spent the week producing hand-sanitizers, and will begin distributing 4-7 Monday afternoon at the Schenevus Fire Department.
“We’ll have a tent outside the first department,” said Oberacker, who is running the state Senate on the Republican line to succeed Jim Seward, R-Milford. “You can drive up, and we’ll hand out one free bottle per household while supply lasts.”
A second distribution is planned 4-7 p.m. Wedneday, April 15, also at the fire department.
COOPERSTOWN – Three key Republicans representing Otsego County issued a statement today calling Governor Cuomo’s plan to “seize” ventilators and PPE equipment from Upstate hospitals “dangerous” and “just plain wrong.”
They are county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is running to succeed state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, and Assemblymen John Salka, R-Brookfield, whose district includes Oneonta and Cooperstown, and Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, whose district includes Cherry Valley, Roseboom, Decatur and Worcester.
SCHENEVUS – It’s not perfect. It needs natural gas. It needs a waste-water treatment solution.
But what the 130-acre site at I-88’s Exit 18 – selected out of 86 sites within two miles of Otsego County’s nine interstate exit as the best for a 350-500 job distribution center – has that’s almost impossible to find is “99-percent community support,” said county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus.
“When we had discussions with development firms,” said Oberacker, “they said that’s one of the biggest positives: The town is for it. They said, ‘That’s huge.’”
Oberacker was interviewed after a consulting firm, McFarland Johnson of Binghamton, hired by the county Board of Representatives to rank distribution-center sites, reported last week it had narrowed its selection from 86 to 62 sites, then to 10, then to five – and then two: the one at Exit 18, and another to Tait Road atop a mountain on the other side of I-88.
The study was commissioned after Oberacker had convinced Sandy Mathes, then Otsego Now president, of the benefits of the Kinch property for a distribution center, the county board commissioned the McFarland Johnson study to make sure the optimum site was chosen.
After Adam Frosino briefed the county reps at their March meeting on the 4th – the Tait Road site was bigger and flatter, he said, but the approach was up steep Route 41 – the board gave the go-ahead to the Schenevus distribution center, the type used by Amazon, Dollar General, Walmart — virtually every major U.S. retailer.
The site, said Frosino, is right off I-88, where an entrance with “curb appeal” can be created by turning the T at the exit and Route 7 into a four-way crossroads. Plus, a second entrance is possible from Smokey Avenue, which runs along the site’s west side.
There’s sufficient land for a 600,000 square foot building, access to utilities, and an owner — Ron and Helen Kinch — willing to sell.
While Tait Road could accommodate a million-square-foot building, Frosino was asked what big retailer would be interested in a 600,000-square-foot one possible at Exit 18. Yes, he replied. Some distribution centers are as big as 1.5 million square feet; some as small at 300,000 square feet.
The Schenevus site is just right, he said.
Oberacker, who is now running for state Senate to succeed retiring state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, points out the #1 site is also south-facing, meaning anyone who locates there can take advantage of solar energy to allay costs.
Two challenges remain, he said the interview. One, sewage disposal: he said a package plant might suffice. Two, natural gas; in addition to solar enhancements, truck deliveries along I-88 might be sufficient, he said.
It was also pointed out that a distribution center could spur related development — a truck stop/gas station, for instance, or a motel.
The next steps, Frosino said, are a market survey, conceptual site plans, a conceptual cost estimate and obtaining environmental reports. The idea is to make the site “virtually shovel-ready,” he said.
The idea, also, is that Otsego Now, the county’s economic development arm which last week received a $75,000 allocation from the county reps, would buy the site and market it. Since it would be job-creating, there would likely be state grants available to help with its development.
COOPERSTOWN – County Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, (and Otsego Now then-President Sandy Mathes) must have been prescient.
A little over three years ago, they proposed 130 acres of level land on a rise to the north of I-88’s Exit 18 at Schenevus for a 250-500-job distribution center, the type used by Amazon, Dollar General, Walmart — virtually every major U.S. retailer.
Today, after months of study, Adam Frosino, an engineer from McFarland Johnson, Binghamton-based consulting engineers, told the county Board of Representatives that 86 potential sites had been identified within two miles of Otsego County’s nine I-88 exits. They had been winnowed down to 26, then 10, then five, then two.
Of those two, the reps selected … the site championed by Oberacker and Mathes at the outset.
WORCESTER – Kyle Van De Water, a lawyer, Army veteran and father of three triplets – his daughter, challenged since her days in the womb, has undergone 30 operations in her 10 years – received the unanimous backing of the Otsego and Schoharie county Republican committees’ executive committees here this evening to challenge freshman Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, in this fall’s election.
The straw poll, while expressing the executive committees’ consensus, must still be affirmed by a meeting of the two full county committees.
Meeting at Worcester’s White House Inn, executive committee members heard from both Van De Water and the other Republican contender, Ola Hawatmeh, a Poughkeepsie native and successful fashion entrepreneur in St. Louis, Mo.
SCHENEVUS – Partner in his father’s market, executive with a multinational food corporation, entrepreneur in his own market-research firm, town supervisor, county representative and, now, candidate for state Senate from the Otsego-County-centric 51st District.
Grounded in Main Street and Wall Street, Peter Oberacker confirmed Tuesday, Jan. 28, that he will seek to carry forward the 34-year legacy of the retiring state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.
“It’s been reassuring to have a state senator who knows us by name,” said the 53-year-old Republican from Schenevus, That’s also “the hardest part: trying to emulate Jim Seward, how he’s been serving the district for 30-40 years in a calming, non-controversial way.
The way forward opened up Tuesday evening as Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, whose district includes four Otsego County towns and was seen as the leading Republican contender to succeed Seward, took himself out of the running. He cited loyalty to his 102nd District, where he was elected less than two years ago.
In the next two weeks, Oberacker said, county Republican Chairman Vince Casale will be introducing him to the county chairmen in the other eight counties in the 51st District, asking for their support.
Initial soundings he’s taken are encouraging, Casale said. “It’s important for us to keep representation in Otsego County” – it’s also the geographic center of the 51st – “as we’ve enjoyed for the past 34 years,” he added.
Asked about Oberacker’s intentions, Seward said “I’ve known the Oberacker family for decades. He has the right skill set, demeanor and experience to make a great candidate.” If Oberacker wins the support of the county GOP chairmen, “he certainly will have my full support. I would consider him a very worthy successor.”
Before Seward announced he will be retiring on Dec. 31, when his current term ends, Jim Barber, a Schoharie farmer and son of J. Roger Barber, state Ag & Markets commissioner in the Carey Administration, announced he was seeking the Democratic nomination. It’s unknown if other Democrats will now emerge.
Locally, two possible Democratic contenders, former Oneonta Mayor John Nader, now SUNY Farmingdale president, and Dan Crowell, the former county treasurer who is leaving the Army Reserves after returning this month from Somalia, have both said they are not interested in a Senate campaign.
Oberacker and his two sisters were born on Long Island. As his father, Peter Sr., used to tell it, the family’s VW bus “ran out of gas and I bought a house.” Actually, the son says, his mother’s parents lived in the area.
The son was 5 at the time and grew up locally, graduating from Schenevus’ Andrew Draper High School, then studying food sales and distribution at SUNY Delhi.
He joined his father in operating Spicy Pete’s Meats, a retail and wholesaler. When his father passed away in 1993, the son joined General Spice, then became an executive chef at Conagra, developing Wendy’s spicy chicken breast, among other products.
By the turn of the century, he was working for German-based Budenheim USA, a food-additive company. When Budenheim laid off U.S. executives, he and a colleague, Ron Wheeler, founded their own company, FormTech Solutions.
The R&D firm located in College Station, applying research developed by Texas A&M scientists to industry. In 2018, Oberacker, the CEO, and Wheeler, the COO/president, moved the company to the Town of Maryland, east of Schenevus.
Oberacker and his wife Carol have two grown children, Holli and Derek.
During this period, Oberacker had been calling on accounts nationwide and commuting back and forth between College Station and the family’s home on Smokey Avenue. He was elected Maryland town supervisor and, then, in 2015, was elected to the county Board of Representatives, succeeding Worcester’s Don Lindberg.
He quickly began to accumulate responsibilities, for the past two years as chairman of the Public Works Committee, which is currently studying a possible combined highway garage at the Northern Catskill BOCES in Milford, among other initiatives.
On learning of Seward’s decision to retire, Oberacker said he was concerned that initiatives of particular interest to him – a prospective 300-job distribution center at Schenevus’ I-88 exit, and a finding a safe berth for students in the financially troubled Schenevus Central School District – would fall by the wayside.
The first step of any prospective candidate, he said, is “you go to your wife, and you basically ask permission.” Then “I called my business partner. He looked at me as if I’d lost my head.” However, “they both supported me,” and the effort was launched.
This story’s been related in this space before: Congressman Tim Holden, a Democrat from Pennsylvania’s anthracite county, used to tell campaign crowds: “I’m the only one of 435 Congressmen who gets up every morning and says to himself, ‘What can I do for Schuylkill County today?’”
It’s also said that if you don’t appreciate what you have, you lose it.”
The vignette and the aphorism are germane today, with the prospective year-end retirement of state Sen. Jim Seward,
R-Milford, and now, with the emergence of county Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, as his prospective successor – and, so far, his only prospective successor from Otsego County.
Oberacker put it well: “It’s been reassuring to have a state senator who knows us by name.”
If he knows us by name, he greets us on the street, he listens to our opinions and, when we need his help, he responds.
To Otsego County citizens, there is no greater issue in this fall’s election than to keep the 51st State Senate District represented by a local man or woman. (Wait, wait: After all, regardless of how the county votes, New York State will go for the as-yet-unnamed Democrat.)
In last week’s article on Republican Assemblyman Chris Tague’s prospective run for the 51st, it was pointed out that no mention was made of Jim Barber, the Schoharie farmer and son of former Ag & Markets Commissioner J. Roger Barber, the prospective Democratic standard bearer.
In our defense, that part of the article dealt with trying to identify in-county successors to Jim Seward.
But we’ll admit that Barber simply didn’t figure in our, granted, somewhat parochial, ruminations.
Of course, former Oneonta Mayor John Nader, now SUNY Farmingdale president, came to mind, as did the charismatic Dan Crowell, former county treasurer and a military man.
Mayors Herzig of Oneonta and Tillapaugh of Cooperstown are prospects and, even moreso, Tillapaugh’s predecessor, Jeff Katz, still in his 50s and with plenty of brains and drive.
Come on, Democrats, put your best (local) foot forward.
Regardless, Peter Oberacker is a fine prospect.
On the one hand, he’s got a down-home personality, a friendly smile and welcoming demeanor.
He’s easy for everyone to talk to, evident in his repeated election in the Town of Maryland and, now from his Maryland/Westford, Worcester/Decatur district on the county board.
On the other hand, he can operate in sophisticated circles as well, working for Fortune 500 U.S. companies and German food-processor Budenheim.
He’d be equally comfortable on the sidewalks of Edmeston and Albany’s plush Senate chambers.
Plus, he has ideas and the oomph to move them forward, evident in championing the 30-job distribution center on Schenevus’ I-88 exit.
Let’s get behind an Otsego County successor to Senator Seward.
So far, Oberacker’s the only one. Other ones may emerge. But if they don’t, he’ll do fine.
SCHENEVUS – County Rep. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, who is also president of FormTech Solutions, a national food research consultancy, is exploring running for the 51st District state Senate seat to succeed James L. Seward, he said yesterday.
Last evening, Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-Schoharie, considered the front-runner for the nomination. pulled out, saying he has commitments to fulfill in his 102nd District job.
Otsego County GOP Chairman Vince Casale said he will be introducing Oberacker to other county chairmen in the nine-county district over the next two weeks to firm up support for the candidate.